John Berestecky is on a mission, and his spirit is unstoppable.
Berestecky is a professor of microbiology in the math/science department at Kapi‘olani Community College. But saying that is not enough because he also has a keen interest in biotechnology, a branch of forensic science that investigates and manages microorganisms in the environment to create useful products or processes.
Before he began teaching, Berestecky served in the Peace Corps in Liberia from 1979-1982. Over the years, he made numerous trips back to Liberia for different reasons. As a professional development interest, he took a leave of absence in 2013 to work with the University of Liberia to revamp and renew their biology and chemistry curricula.
Currently, Berestecky is assisting to develop a virus research at the University of Liberia. His goal is to forge a collaboration between the University of Hawai‘i and the University of Liberia which will lead to a graduate and research program in emerging viral diseases at the University of Liberia (e.g., Ebola and Lassa virus). Such collaboration will hopefully involve the biotechnology and medical laboratory technician programs at Kapi‘olani CC as well as the graduate education resources of the Department of Tropical Medicine, Medical Microbiology and Pharmacology programs at the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM). Berestecky is an affiliated graduate faculty at JABSOM.
This past summer, Berestecky accompanied University of Hawai‘i/Kapi‘olani CC students to help with the research at the University of Liberia. Melissa Takaaze is a current INBRE student in Berestecky’s lab and Brien Haun was once a student here and has since transferred to UHM.